6/15/15

Edgar Allen Poe's THE RAVEN: Lego playset


"Feast your eyes on this" my 7-year-old told me and revealed his latest masterpiece: a Lego playset based on Edgar Allen Poe's THE RAVEN. 

My kid first got into Poe via YouTube's Epic Rap Battles of History (there's a video where Stephen King faces off with Poe.) 

After his interest in the macabre author, my wife read him the famous poem (and showed him the drawings in Gahan Wilson's Classics Illustrated adaptation from the '90s.) 

He soon realized it was the same poem the Simpsons dramatized in the very first Treehouse of Horror. And he's been watching it over and over, wishing there was a Lego playset. So he build his own. 





Since then he's devised a plan for the annual storybook parade. (Public Schools in Brooklyn have replaced the Halloween parade with a more literary "storybook character parade" where students dress up as literary figures and bring in the book. Naturally most kids will dress up as Iron Man or Spider-Man and bring in a paperback novelization. Not even a comic book, but a chapter-book tie-in!) But my kid has already decided he's going as THE RAVEN. 

"And all day, whenever a teacher asks me anything I'll just say `Nevermore!'" 

Come back on November 1st to get the update. 

*** Somewhat related *** 

This is the same 7-year-old who pitched a sequel to THE SHINING

For more famous macabre animals, come see KEVIN GEEKS OUT ABOUT ANIMAL ATTACKS at the Nitehawk Movie Theater this month. 


Trailer: KEVIN GEEKS OUT ABOUT ANIMAL ATTACKS from Nitehawk Cinema on Vimeo.


6/2/15

Kevin Geeks Out returns to Brooklyn, teams up with Nitehawk Cinema


Starting this June, we're bringing the KEVIN GEEKS OUT show back to Brooklyn for an extended run at NITEHAWK CINEMA in Williamsburg. 

The series begins Thursday June 25th with KEVIN GEEKS OUT about ANIMAL ATTACKS, keeping with the KGO tradition there will be dozens of film clips presented by special guests. (Order tickets in advance HERE, the show will sell-out.)




KGO shows continue once a month, with a different theme each month. 

You can save the summer dates: 

Thursday July 30th @ 9:30
Thursday August 27th @ 9:30
Thursday September 17th @ 9:30

(come back here in July to see the topics for each show.) 


KEVIN GEEKS OUT ABOUT ANIMAL ATTACKS


A two-hour video variety show of rare footage and pop culture commentary.


Comedian Kevin Maher presents an obsessive look at the Animal Attack genre: from recent CGI beasts to the nature-gone-wrong films of the Drive-In era. This two-hour multi-media show includes dozens of film clips featuring crazed cats, angry bears, giant spiders, Freudian snakes, killer cockroaches, a racist dog and much more. With special guest presentations by Jon Abrams (Editor-in-Chief, Daily Grindhouse), Wendy Mays (creator of SPACE CAT) Matt Glasson (filmmaker/editor/co-host, Kevin & Matt Geek Out About Zombies) and Tom Blunt (film blogger and variety show host)  

Plus Kevin hand-picked some of his favorite scenes from the genre, including: the most pretentious animal incident, best gratuitous animal attack, and cinema’s fakest reptile (hint: it’s not DinoCroc.)


ABOUT NITEHAWK CINEMA

Since 2011, Nitehawk Cinema has been one of New York's best movie theaters, offering an eclectic mix of first-run films, revival screenings and special events. It's a great theater for movie-lovers, date night, or even a brunch screening. 

Nitehawk includes a full-service restaurant, so you can get food served during the movie, as well as snacks and beverages from the bar. There's also a bar and cafe, to get food and drinks before or after your screening. 

Guests are advised to arrive 30 minutes prior to showtime to get settled, meet their server, place their order and enjoy the custom pre-show. Seating is first come, first serve. 

For more about the theater, just click HERE.

ABOUT KEVIN GEEKS OUT

KEVIN GEEKS OUT is a video variety show hosted by writer-comedian Kevin Maher – a confabulation of obscure film clips, offbeat commentary, guest experts, games and curiosities.  To geek out with Kevin you don’t have to be a geek, just a pop culture-adventurer.
To date, Kevin has geeked out with over 30 different installments of his variety night, dedicating a full evening to a specific topic, such as Bigfoot! – Robots! – Zombies! – KISS! – Wrestling! – Batman! – and Visions of the Future! His show has been a critics’ pick in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Time Out NY, Gothamist … and what other comedy show can you name that’s been featured in Scientific American? 

Previous guests include writers from The Daily Show, award-winning cartoonists, scientists, comic book writers, film scholars, screenwriters, novelists, bloggers, a clown, a psychic and Santa Claus.

Join Kevin each month as he and his special guests share rare footage, sharp observations and funny takes on the tropes, themes and recurring images that occupy our minds.

“Kevin Maher is a shining example of truly independent humor and spirit. Not only that, but he's actually funny!” 
- Lloyd Kaufman, President, Troma Entertainment, and creator of the Toxic Avenger


Follow Kevin Geeks Out on Facebook and twitter  

4/20/15

THE BAD NEWS BEARS & 5 MORE MOVIES THAT ARE SECRETLY ABOUT VIETNAM


I wrote a piece at IFC.com, originally titled "Holy shit, six movies I hadn't realized are totally about VIETNAM." They changed the title, but it's still pretty good. You can read it here. It's "smart", in a Cracked.com sort of way. 

Interestingly (well, interesting to no one but me) -- my college thesis was about Vietnam in popular memory, so this essay was a return to that. I barely graduated college because of my non-traditional thesis-lecture-show. So writing this essay about Vietnam movies felt very Rambo; but instead of returning to Vietnam I was going back to the treacherous landscape of media studies. "Do I get to win this time?" 

Lastly: I would make a case that GHOSTBUSTERS is about Reagan not dealing with the ghosts of Viet Nam. But I don't want to risk "ruining" someone's childhood with that theory. 

RELATED: 
My STAR WARS personal essay. (Don't worry, I don't argue that STAR WARS is the first pro-war film since John Wayne's THE GREEN BERETS.) 

4/15/15

Kid Pitches a Sequel to THE SHINING

Kids learn various bits of pop-culture, including references to the R-rated world of grown-up movies. On the playground my 7-year-old learned about THE SHINING. (Which he immediately recognized from a TREEHOUSE OF HORROR parody.) Anyway, my boy has an idea for sequel (I guess his friend didn't tell him about DOCTOR SLEEP.) 




4/3/15

Ripoff, Homage or Coincidence: OFFICE SPACE edition

Stephen Root's performance as Milton Wadkins -- is it Ernie Kovacs Percy Dovetonsils (which, may have been a parody of author Truman Capote?)

See for yourself and decide:




Office Space- Milton Scenes from Team Crystal on Vimeo.

* * *

RELATED:

When twitter asks, I imagine it being said as Bill Lumbergh.


3/31/15

RICHARD NIXON AND THE LYING AUTHORITY FIGURES IN SOME OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES


Sharp suit, gray hair, crooked smile: one of the first character-types I became aware was this lying authority figure. I didn't know it when I was a child, but each of these minor villains are stand-ins for Richard Nixon. See here: 


Mayor Larry Vaughn from JAWS (1975) 
The Mayor makes his position clear: I'm not closing the beaches. We never learn Vaughn's political affiliations, but he's a classic portrait of an empty suit (scripted by counter-culture comedian Carl Gottlieb), spouting platitudes like "Amity, as you know, means friendship." His greed and denial are a deadly combination. He's an archetypical Nixon figure, knowingly lying to the public about a real danger. 

 Mr. Lewis Teague from POLTERGEIST (1982) 
There's a lot of scary stuff in POLTERGEIST: creepy clowns, carnivorous trees, a flying Hulk action figure. But none of these would be possible without Teague. He's the one who built the the Cuesta Verde houses on top of a cemetery -- and he only moved the headstones (not the bodies.) Teague is to the ghosts what Mayor Vaughn is to the shark; the enabler of evil. Again, I didn't realize it at the time, but he embodies the public's distrust of leaders after Watergate and Vietnam. 

Dr. James Kelloway in CAPRICORN ONE (1978) 
Years of playing Mark Twain prepared Hal Holbrook for one of my favorite film monologues: his deliberately slowly paced speech perfectly sets up the story of CAPRICORN ONE. Holbrook actually allows us to sympathize with the devious NASA scientist. True to the post-Vietnam era: He's not a bad man, but he does questionable things. 


D.A. Thomas Pain in THE NIGHT STALKER (1972) 
Revisiting this cult favorite I figured the District Attorney fit the bill: He's threatens the freedom of the press and works with the police force to withhold information and cover up the murders of a Las Vegas vampire. And he's a silver-haired suit. The first Kolchak movie aired 5 months before the Watergate break-in, but he still counts! 

Dean Vernon Wormer in NATIONAL LAMPOON'S ANIMAL HOUSE (1978) 
In his 2006 memoir The Real Animal House author Chris Miller identifies the real-life inspirations for his stories of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. At the end of the book he defends Dartmoth College Dean Seymore, noting that the real-life Dean was not the source material for Wormer: "Nixon was Dean Wormer. Dean Seymore was always a great guy. And his wife is not Marion Wormer!" Thanks for clearing that up, Chris. [This seems like as good a place as any to mention that John Landis' first choice for the evil college dean was DRAGNET's Jack Webb. Mr. Webb turned it down because he thought the script poked fun at authority. Yeesh!]

* * * 


So there you have it. The Nixons of my youth. 

Full-disclosure: this blog post was written to be a footnote to another article I wrote about Vietnam movies for IFC.com


RELATED POSTS 

My Favorite Flask - Mrs. Wormer in Animal House

3/30/15

My Favorite Flask - Mrs. Wormer in ANIMAL HOUSE

Occasionally someone I've never met asks me to contribute writing work as a "pop culture expert." That's because I wrote a (mostly) satirical essay about being a "pop culture expert" and my name comes up when you google the damn phrase. (Read it here

One of the most recent requests came from a flask website looking for short entries about flasks in pop culture. Here's what I wrote.  


FLASK CAMEO: NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE

National Lampoon’s Animal House features all kinds of drinking, but one of the more pointed portrayals comes from Verna Bloom’s Mrs. Wormer.

As the wife of the evil college Dean, Marian Wormer is part of “the establishment”, but she doesn’t pass up an invitation to a frat house toga party. Mrs. Wormer arrives late (having just come from the “God-damn senior honors dinner”) and crashes her Buick station wagon in front of the Delta House. Before entering the party, she takes a long pull from the silver flask stashed in her purse.

In a booze-heavy movie, Mrs. Wormer is the only character to use a flask. The snobs from the Omega House drink (imported?) beer from ceramic German mugs, while the Delta slobs guzzle Jack Daniels straight from the bottle. But Mrs. Wormer’s thirst is something that’s kept concealed. The flask reflects a bored housewife’s double-life. Unlike the joyless villains in the movies, Mrs. Wormer has a vice (and not just screwing a college kid who’s almost old enough to be her son) – her drinking humanizes her and makes the Dean’s wife much more relatable.

The Animal House novelization includes Mrs. Wormer in the extended “Where Are They Now?” post-script, noting that she went on to five unsuccessful stints in A.A. Wherever she is now, her flask is probably with her. 
*  *  *
post-script: 
The editor was so happy with my writing, he sent me a free flask. I don't drink, so I'm including it as a trivia prize at Saturday's ZOMBIE show. Go here for details and tickets. 



3/29/15

10 Questions for Your Zombie Screenplay

Are you a zombie screenwriter? 

(That is, are you a screenwriter working on a zombie movie?)

Then here are some basic questions for you: 

1. RUNNING OR STAGGERING? 
Do your zombies run? Or do they stagger? 
Choose a side, mofo. 

3/28/15

NAME THAT ZOMBIE MOVIE: a cinema quiz

Here's a photo quiz to get you ready for KEVIN & MATT GEEK OUT ABOUT ZOMBIES
(Saturday April 4th at the Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers) 


Can you name the movies these zombies appear in? 

(Answers will appear in the comments next week.) 


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Get caught up on your zombie cinema with KEVIN & MATT GEEK OUT ABOUT ZOMBIES

A two-hour feast of zombie film footage and pop culture commentary.

featuring special guests: 
  • Brian Solomon (The Vault of Horror
  • Captain Cruella (Village Invasion Zombie Crawl)

KEVIN & MATT GEEK OUT ABOUT ZOMBIES
at the Alamo Drafthouse 
2548 Central Park Ave. in Yonkers
Saturday April 4th @ 7:55pm
Get tickets HERE 


**RELATED LINK:
GRAFFITI IN MOVIES quiz

3/26/15

TURN ME ON, DEAD MAN - Mike "The Main Event" Edison on The Undertaker


One of my favorite reader/writer/raconteurs talks about America's favorite zombie wrestler, THE UNDERTAKER. 

Here's a recording of Mike Edison's "Turn Me On, Dead Man" (as seen at Kevin Geeks Out About Wrestling). Mike digs into the Undertaker's past and looks at his place in the history of weird wrestling gimmicks. 




RELATED: 
Kevin & Matt Geek Out About Zombies is Saturday April 4th at the Alamo Drafthouse.